Through Statistics and Film: Attempting to Bring Our World Closer to Being Green

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to provide us with insight and factual information about the different rends that have occurred in both our economy and the way that this in turn affects our own lives.

 “No Impact Man”

Living no impact for a year, can it be done? (1)

 “No Impact Man” is a documentary detailing the year in the life of Colin Beavan. A New York City resident, a writer and a newly found environmentalist, Beavan decides that for his next book idea, he wants, with his family, to live a year without causing ANY environmental impact. Along with his wife and daughter, he avoids using the elevator, traveling by car, bus, or train, buying food other than that of local farmer’s markets, producing waste, and using electricity for an entire year. The film highlights the successes and challenges to this no impact year. Beavan implores that living with no impact, or at least very little, is possible, if we as humans are ready to look at what we really need rather than what we “think” we need.

“No Impact Man” relates directly to previous class discussions. We spent time both in class and through assignments on ecological footprints. As stated by Withgott and Brennan, an ecological footprint is a “cumulative amount of land and water required to provide the raw materials a person or population consume and to dispose of or recycle the waste that is produced” (2). In a previous assignment, assignment 4, we discussed EFs in relation to ourselves and average EFs around the world. Many of us were shocked and dismayed at how many earths it would take if everyone lived our lifestyle. Beavan seeks to really highlight that point in an effort to make others reduce their own individual ecological footprint. Beavan harps on the amount of trash an average American produces. How avoidable is it? If we avoid certain things like drinking soda out of cans, water out of plastic bottles, coffee in disposable cups than we can reduce the amount of waste we produce. Using worm composts, one can recycle food waste into perfectly rich compost. All these methods can and will reduce one’s ecological footprint, leading to a less wasteful life, and a healthier one too (as Beavan lost 20 pounds over the year)! Beavan at one point says that he as one person cannot make that big of an impact, but it is his hope that through his actions, more people will join the effort. The average EF in the US is 9.5. This shocking number needs to be reduced and through collective individual efforts, Beavan hopes that people around the world can reduce their EFs.


 Can one family make a difference? (3)

“No Impact Man” is a very well produced film in my opinion. It is humorous while also informative and presents the material in a way that is very gripping. It is easy to follow along, even for those who are not environmentally aware. However, not all agree. A.O. Scott of the New York Times remains “unconvinced that the cause of planetary rescue will be advanced very far by what is, in the end, an elaborate stunt. But as a professional writer, a New York husband and a man with a compost bin, an organic-produce fetish and a guilty conscience, I can’t, in the end (all appearances to the contrary), judge Mr. Beavan or this film too severely. Making an impact is easy. Making a difference is hard” (4). I, however, politely disagree. While yes, Beavan did this experiment as a subject for his upcoming book, but I think regardless of the intention, it brought about a positive change, and one that many of us could learn from. It was well acted because it was real and that’s more than a lot of movies these days can say.

Graph from Gapminder displaying the relationship between life expectancy and average income from 1900 -2009 (5)

The website is a website that examines the relationships between different variables and there effects on one another over different time periods. I have chosen to focus on my home country, The United States. The two variables that I feel are the most important to be considered for the US are the life expectancy and the income per person. In the United States in the 1900’s the average life expectancy was 49 and the average income was 6,624. This is drastically different from both the life expectancy and the average income in 2009. In 2009  the life expectancy was 79 while the income per person was 41,256.

The two variables that I have chosen to examine are the life expectancy versus the average income. Today, in 2009 as the average income increases so does the life expectancy. The relationship is positive. Between the years 1900 and 2009, it is evident that there have been serious changes to both of the variables. These changes could be dependent on many historical/economical and political events that have occurred in the United States. From the 1900’s the average income per person is increasing every year until the 1920’s, in the 1920’s there is a decline for the income, from there on it remains the same until 1950s. This could be related to the fact that the Great Depression occurred in the 1920-40’s. This could have greatly hindered the progression of income.

6) The great depression, millions were without work


7) WWII American soldiers raise a victory flag

Also during these years WWII was surfacing and then occurring. This could provide an explanation for why the life expectancy rates also remained the same for many years along with the average income. The war took many lives, and significantly strained the economy as the US was providing aid to many of the other countries, and also spending a lot of money on warfare. After the 1950s both variables began to increase again. During the years between the 1950’s and 2009 many advances in technology were created particularly in medications. Medications were found to treat Hepatitis A, and also penicillin began to be used. This was able to boost both the average income and the life expectancy for most. In the 1970’s the average income was 23,346 and the life expectancy was 71, representing a very large increase from the 1920’s.

 8) Doctors using new technology to operate on patients

In conclusion we are able to see how much of a relationship there is between the economy, our usage of the world’s resources and the effects that all of these different factors have on sustaining human life!

Partners: Amy and Hannah


1) Youtube. “No Impact Man-Official Trailer” (Jul 29 2009). Retrieved May 19, 2011 from

2) Withgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2010). Environment: The science behind the stories. 4th Ed. San  Francisco: Pearson Education.

3) No Impact Man. “Ridiculously Conspicuous Unconsumption” (Jan 13, 2009). Retrieved May 18, 2011 from

4) Scott, A.O. (2009). Portrait of a Marriage: Eco-Geeks Unplugged. Retrieved May 19, 2011 from

5) Gapminder (n.d.). The Wealth and Health of Nations. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t;ly=2003;lb=f;il=t;fs=11;al=30;stl=t;st=t;nsl=t;se=t$wst;tts=C$ts;sp=5.59290322580644;ti=2009$zpv;v=0$inc_x;mmid=XCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj1jiMAkmq1iMg;by=ind$inc_y;mmid=YCOORDS;iid=phAwcNAVuyj2tPLxKvvnNPA;by=ind$inc_s;uniValue=8.21;iid=phAwcNAVuyj0XOoBL_n5tAQ;by=ind$inc_c;uniValue=255;gid=CATID0;by=grp$map_x;scale=log;dataMin=295;dataMax=79210$map_y;scale=lin;dataMin=19;dataMax=86$map_s;sma=49;smi=2.65$cd;bd=0$inds=;example=75

6) The Great Depression. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from—unemployed-chicagoans.jpg

7) American WWII soldiers. Retrieved May 17, 2011 from

8) Doctors. Retrieved May 18, 2011 from


Population: Friend or Foe?

Population: Friend or Foe


The purpose of this post is to provide one with information about the global population growth and its affects on the natural resources available throughout the world. It provides one with factual knowledge about the different perspectives on the matter and also the different predictions that have been proposed for the future.

Background Info

Today, the state of the human population is increasing at an extremely quick rate. The global population is 7 billion and each year it is increasing by 60 million. Many inhabitants are starting to move from the more rural areas to the cities creating problems with crowding and resource usage. The main concern with this topic is how will the earth be able to  support this many people? Withgott and Brennan state that the earth’s carrying capacity sets specific limits on the amount of population growth that can occur. There are a specific amount of resources allotted to the earth in order to support the amount of people in the population. As the earth’s population is ever increasing, a serious risk is presented. It is estimated that if 1-2 billion people live in a “healthy environment” then 33 billion will be living in extreme poverty.


There are many different factors that can cause a rise in the population. The first, and perhaps most obvious factor is the birth rates that fluctuate each year. In countries that are more undeveloped the birth rates are higher, whereas the countries that have more wealth have lower birth rates. Another important factor concerns the ratio of women to men. Withgott and Brennan propose that for every 100 women there are 106 men, the equality in numbers of men and women result in more offspring. Another factor is the immigration rates. People that seek refuge from their own countries in deserted territories often use the conserved resources in order to provide for themselves.

The Cornucopian’s standpoint on this issue is that because of the advances in technology a solution will be found in order to continue to support the people of the world with the nutrients and natural resources that they need in order to function. Contradictory to this the Cassandra’s view on this issue is that if the world continues to increase in population and to use the resources at this rate there is going to be some sort of a disaster. I believe that many people are aware of the happenings and the risks that we are taking by using mass resources in our everyday lives and still continue to be wasteful. A dangerous problem exists with the world’s population growth and resource consumption. I think that if we do continue to live the way we do with an increasing population that eventually we will use up the resource quota and an eventual disaster will result.

Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich is an American biologist and educator, but is better known as an ecologist and a demographer. He became well-known after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb. He was also one of the first ecologists to recognize that the impact of human activity on the environment must be calculated using three factors instead of just one.

The IPAT equation is a formula used to describe the impact of human activity on the environment. The lettering stands for:

Human impact (I) on the environment equals (=) the product of Population (P), Affluence (A), Technology (T). It describes how these three factors contribute toward our environmental impact.

The Population Bomb

Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb brought about much controversy in the 1970s. In his book, Ehrlich warned about unrestricted population growth and limited resources. He argued that the population was already too high, and that humanity could not prevent severe famines, the spread of disease, social unrest, and other negative consequences of overpopulation. He also said that societies must take strong action to curb population growth in order to lessen future disasters both ecological and social.

Some of what Ehrlich mentions in his book did not come true, however, his main predictions did happen. He has backed up his statements by saying that 600 million people are going hungry, billions are under-nourished, and that his predictions about disease and climate change were essentially correct. A large reason for this is because the world has not cut back on technology or resources. New technologies are being discovered daily by large, developed countries. Also, many countries have an increasingly large ecological footprint and they continue to use the earth’s resources at a fast pace.

IPAT Equation

United States – The US does not have any rules or regulations on restricting children. Families are allowed to have as many children as they prefer, it is a personal choice. The US is also a leader in new technology. Because it is such a large and developed country, the US has access to many resources and technologies that smaller, under-developed countries would not have. Increased affluence in the United States would also increase the countries impact on the environment.

China – The impact on the environment for China would be quite different than that on the US. Although China’s population is extremely high, the country is taking steps to decrease it. The country has a mandatory one-child policy. Many parents feel the need to have a male child so that their child cannot have kids. To do so, many women have an abortion if they become pregnant with a female child. This would potentially decrease China’s impact on the environment; however, China is also a world leader in new technology. This idea means that the country’s impact on the environment would increase.

Uganda – Most African countries are decreasing in population. This is mainly due to causes such as starvation, disease, lack of food, water and medical care. Besides the fact that jobs are hard to come by; residents of small under-developed countries, such as Uganda, do not have the opportunity to go to school, get an education, and get a job. This is a major hindrance to increasing affluence. Finally, a country such as this one does not have the ability or resources to increase their technologies. All of these factors lead to the conclusion that Uganda does not have a very large impact on the world’s environment.


Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling is a professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Rosling’s current works focus mainly on uncovering the truth about the developing world. He presents his data and other findings in a very different and unique way.

One thing I learned from  Rosling’s presentation is how most countries are catching up to the United States and other Western countries. He presented a number or graphs showing how non-Western countries have caught up the Western countries on many levels.





Partner: Hannah Rogers

What is an EF?

What in the World is an Ecological Footprint?

The purpose of this assignment is to explain the advantages and disadvantages of buying and selling locally grown food in supermarkets.

An ecological footprint measures human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. There are four main factors that can contribute to the EF of a country: consumption, technology, population, and ecosystem health. Food produced at different places can impact an ecological footprint. If food is produced far away from a supermarket where it is going to be sold, there is a great deal of transportation that is needed. Food may have to travel long distances on trucks or trains to get to the supermarket. All of the pollution coming from these vehicles can absolutely impact that area’s ecological footprint.

Food Production

As food production became more industrialized during the 20th century, several trends emerged. One trend was a loss in the number of varieties of crops grown. A second trend was the increasing amount of energy expended to store food and ship it to market. In some countries food may travel long distances to reach the market. In, food travels an average of 1,400 miles from the field to the table. The price American pay for the food covers the cost of this long-distance transportation, which in 2004 was approximately only one dollar per mile (1.6 km).

Assuming that you are an American (not all of us are in this class), you live in New York City (2009 population estimate 8,363,710), and that the average American eats 1 kg (2 pounds) of food per day, calculate the food transportation costs for each category in the table below (U.S. 2009 population estimates 307,006,550).

Cost of the Food We Eat

Consumer Daily Cost Annual cost
You $1.40 $511
Your class $28.00 $10,220
Your town (New York) $245,893,074 $4,273,855,810
United States $429,809,170 $156,880,347,050


1. What specific challenges to environmental sustainability are imposed by a food production and distribution system that relies on long-range transportation to bring food to market?

There are many factors that will affect the environment when using a production and distribution system that relies on long-range transportation to bring food to market. A large factor would be pollution. Every mode of transportation that would be carrying food would be giving off some kind of air pollution. Even before the food is put on the trucks (or other means of transportation), the production systems may also hinder environmental sustainability.,r:1,s:0&tx=70&ty=123&biw=1440&bih=809

One solution to this problem would be to sell more locally-grown food in supermarkets. If food is being transported only a few miles, instead of thousands of miles, then there will be a lot let pollution from trucks and other vehicles carrying food. If you are buying food that was produced close to where you live, you are also helping to promote your own local economy. It is a much better idea to be buying local-grown and transported food.

 2. A study by Pirog and Benjamin (2003) noted that locally produced food in theU.S.traveled only 80 kilometers (appx 50miles) or so to the market, thus saving 96% of the transportation costs. Locally grown foods may be fresher and cause less environmental impact as they are brought to market, but what are the disadvantages to you as a consumer in relying on local food production? Do you think the advantages outweigh those disadvantages?

There are definitely a number of disadvantages involved in buying and selling solely locally grown food. One large factor could be the weather. If there is a drought or a hurricane and all of the local crops are ruined, there will be no food to sell in the markets. The weather is usually the same within a 50 mile (80 kilometer) radius; not enough food in the markets would be detrimental to the people living in that area. Although locally-grown food seems to be the better option on the surface, it seems to be a risky idea to rely only on this type of food. A good option would be to have a combination of locally and non-locally grown food in markets.

 3. What happened to the gasoline prices recently? How would future increases in the price of gas affect your answers to the preceding questions?

Recently gas prices have been increasing and increasing. I think if gas prices were to continue to increase at the rates they are now, my opinion would change a lot. Having only locally grown food in a market may be a very risky idea. However, if gas is extremely expensive, it does not make sense to have vehicles driving thousands of miles just to bring food to these markets. It would be a lot cheap and environmentally friendly to have all the food be transported from a much small distance.

 4. If you are an American, how do you think these figures apply to other countries or your country? Where do you base your assumptions?

I think these figures and opinions would be quite different in other countries. If a country is under-developed, it may not be able to afford to have huge trucks driving across the country to bring food. They also may not even have the resources to transport food to far away markets. They may only be able to sell the food that is grown within a very small radius. On the other hand, a large developed country with all of the resources to ship food from far away may not want to do that. Developed countries, such as the U.S., have the intelligence and technology to know that transporting food far away can be bad for the environment.

Lab Report

Eriochrome Blue

Lab Report

Hannah Rogers and Alexandra Reilly

Ecology 110-A

Prof. Grekinis

American College of Thessaloniki

12 April 12, 2011




The purpose of this report is to analyze the observations and findings from the labs conducted both in the classroom and on the field trip to Lake Kerkinis. From this lab we were able to understand more in depth the different methods for testing the concentrations of unknown substances. The classes that took place during the week in the laboratory allowed us to learn and practice how exactly to determine the concentration of a substance in a solution. We tested the concentrations of two unknown substances in class by following the instructions for specific element kits; we then learned how to scan these substances using the spectrophotometer. The trip Lake Kerkini provided us with a more realistic experience for testing the concentrations of substances. Random samples were taken from different parts of the lake, and then analyzed to find the specific concentration levels of elements much like the work we completed in the classroom. At the hotel we were able to again follow the instructions of similar element kits in order to identify the concentration levels present in the water from the lake. The labs that we completed in the days prior to our trip to the lake greatly prepared us for the work we completed at Lake Kerkinis! Below you will see the different steps and conclusions we found while working on this lab.

Principles of a Spectrophotometer:

(How it Works)

(1) A spectrophotometer is employed to measure the amount of light that a sample absorbs. The instrument operates by passing a beam of light through a sample and measuring the intensity of light reaching a detector. The beam of light consists of a stream of photons, represented by the purple balls in the simulation shown below. When a photon encounters an analyze molecule (the analyte is the molecule being studied), there is a chance the analyte will absorb the photon. This absorption reduces the number of photons in the beam of light, thereby reducing the intensity of the light beam.

The Steps We used to Determine the Concentration of an Unknown Compound in a Solution

1) We obtained two samples of 2ml of unknown solution.

2) We put 2ml of the solution in one test tube, and another 2ml in another test tube.

3) We marked one test tube blank.

4) We followed the instructions on the Potassium element kit and added specific amounts of potassium to the substance.

5) We mixed the substance and let it sit for 5 minutes.

6) We then cleaned off both test tubes and placed the blank tube in the spectrophotometer.

7) We scrolled down the list of elements to find Potassium and scanned the blank tube, and found the concentration was 0.

We then repeated step 7 with the mixed tube, and found the specific concentration.

9) We washed and cleaned our tools and then repeated steps 1-7 using unknown sample 2.

10) When testing the mixed test tube for sample two we found that we could not get an accurate reading because the spectrophotometer was unable to read high numbers. To correct this we diluted our substance with water (see part 3 for how we diluted the substance).

11) After diluting the substance we were able to scan and obtain an accurate concentration.


Graph 1: Absorption Spectrum of Eriochrome Blue

eco lab

The graph shows the relationship between the wavelength and the absorption for Erichrome Blue. The max wavelength for Erichrome Blue is .626 nm. We plot this graph to find out at which wavelength the compound Erichrome Blue can be absorbed.


Stock Solutions and Serial Dilutions

In order to dilute a solution to create an accurate reading on the spectrophotometer you need to be open to much trial and error. First you need to start over with your original solution. For example, if you had 10ml of the original substance to begin with you would need to take 5ml of the substance out, and add 5ml of water to it in order to dilute it. In our own lab this still proved to be too high for the spectrophotometer, so we decided to use only 2ml of the substance and then put in 8ml of the water. The machine was able to read the number this time, so all we had to do next was multiply by 5 to get the correct reading. 


Graph 2: Concentration vs. Absorbtion

eco lab2


Graph 3: Absorbtion vs. Concentration

eco lab1


Regression Equation (calculated with Excel):

y = 0.4227 x + 2.6655

Sample A: 0.515

y = 0.4227 (0.515) + 2.6655

y = 2.8832

Sample B: 0.481

y = 0.4227 (0.481) + 2.6655

y = 2.8688



By completing this lab we were able to better understand how to find the concentrations of unknown substances from a variety of different samples dissolved in various solutions. The opportunity to practice these various steps in the classroom greatly prepared us for activities we conducted at Lake Kerkinis.


Works Cited:

“Spectrophotometer: Basic Principles.” Davidson College Chemistry Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. <>.

Continue reading this entry »

Ecology 110 Exam

Chapter 1: Science and Sustainability: An Introduction to Environmental Science!

This chapter provides an introduction to the important topics that concern the natural resources within the environment and the risk that human impact has these resources.


Multiple Choice

1. What does our environment consist of?

a)     Living and non-living things

b)     Continents

c)      Oceans

d)     All of the above

2. An experiment includes:

a)     An independent variable

b)     A manipulated variable

c)      A tested variable

d)     A question

3. The tragedy of the commons is:

a)     Complete resource depletion

b)     Deforestation

c)      Global warming

d)     Traffic pollution


4. The Scientific Method includes one of the following:

a)     A hypothesis

b)     An independent Variable

c)      An ecological footprint

d)     A manipulated variable


5. What is biodiversity?

a)     Different types of pollution

b)     Diversity amongst species

c)      The cumulative number and diversity of living things

d)     The genetic makeup of different species


True or False

1. Sustainable development is the use of resources in a manner that satisfies our current needs but does not compromise the future availability of resources.

2. The scientific method does not concern scientific experiments.




1. Natural Resource a) Surpassing the earth’s capacity to sustainably support us


2. Renewable natural resources b) Sunlight, wind, wave energy.


3. Nonrenewable resources c) Substances and energy sources that we take from our environment and that we need to survive.


4. Fossil fuels d) Once they are depleted they are no longer available super passing the earth’s capacity to sustainably support us
5. Overshoot e) Oil, coal, natural gas











Essay Questions

1. Distinguish between the terms environmental science and environmentalism.

2. Create your own experiment by employing the steps of the scientific method. Describe how each step will be carried out.


Chapter 2: From Chemistry to Energy to Life

This chapter focuses mainly on the fundamentals of environmental chemistry.  Also discusses are the molecular building blocks of organisms; energy and energy flow; photosynthesis, respiration, and chemosynthesis; major hypotheses for life’s origins; and finally, our knowledge of early life on Earth.


Multiple Choice

1. Organic compounds

a)     Are carbon atoms joined by covalent bonds

b)     Have a pH of 7

c)      Contain only carbon and hydrogen

d)     Do no exist


2. The human body is made up of mainly

a)     Carbon

b)     Hydrogen

c)      Oxygen

d)     Iron


3. Macromolecules can include

a)     Lipids

b)     Carbohydrates

c)      Bones

d)     Proteins


4. Organisms use all of these main sources of energy except

a)     Inorganic molecules

b)     Light

c)      Organic molecules

d)     Music


5. Bacteria can survive and thrive in all but

a)     Salt

b)     Acid

c)      Clean and dry surfaces

d)     Iron


True or False

  1. Less than half of Earth’s surface is made up of water.
  2. 4.5 billion years ago, no oxygen existed in the atmosphere, until photosynthesis developed in microbes.



1. Acid a) Nature or energy changes from a more-ordered to a less-ordered state
2. Photosynthesis b) Pollution cleanup through enhanced natural biodegradation
3. Bioremediation c) Light energy converted into chemical energy
4. Second law of thermodynamics d) Can be gas, liquid, or solid
5. Hydrocarbon e) pH lower than 7





Essay Questions

  1. Describe the three types of energy and how each kind works (potential, kinetic, chemical).









2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of phytoremediation: using plants to clean-up soils.

Chapter 3: Evolution, Biodiversity, and Population Ecology

This chapter introduces such topics as biodiversity and factors that may lead to extinction and/or population increase and decrease.

1. Genetic change in populations of organisms across generations is ___________

a)     natural selection

b)     artificial selection

c)      adaptation

d)     biological evolution


2. _______________ has led to the great variety of dog breeds (selective breeding).

a)     artificial selection

b)     adaptation

c)      evolution

d)     lack of pet control

3. Carrying capacity can be defined as ___________________.

a)     The maximum population size of a species that its environment can sustain.

b)     The minimum population size of a species that its environment can sustain.

c)      How much weight each species can carry.

d)     The population growth rate.

4. Extinction can be defined as ____________________.

a)     When the dinosaurs disappeared.

b)     Survival of the fittest.

c)      When the last member of a species dies and the species ceases to exist.

d)     Eventual.

5. Allopatric speciation is species formation due to __________ separation of populations.

a)     Physical.

b)     Metaphorical.

c)      Genetic

d)     Topographical.


Biosphere An organism’s use of resources and its functional role in a community
Community The environment in which an organism lives
Ecosystem The total living things on Earth and the areas they inhabit
habitat Interacting species that live in the same area
niche Communities and nonliving material and forces they interact with


True or False

1. Geographic range, habitat tolerance, and population size are three factors that can contribute to rarity.

2. Rarity in any form appears to decrease vulnerability to extinction.


Essay Questions

1. Describe the four primary causes of population decline.

2. Demonstrate how limiting factors affect a species in any given environment. How and why do these factors affect population growth

Chapter 4: Species Interactions and Community Ecology

This chapter discusses the differences between the different Biomes within the world’s regions.




Multiple Choice

1. Competition is _________:

a)     When multiple organisms seek the same limited resources.

b)     When species fight with each other physically to obtain resources

c)      When species produce a stable point of equilibrium.

d)     When species use only small portions of their resources.


2. The tropical rainforest biome has:

a)     Climates that alternate between very wet and dry seasons.

b)     Climates that only include dry seasons.

c)      Climates that include only wet seasons.

d)     Climates that are very mild.


3. What percentage of the world’s forest do rainforest’s host?

a)     14%

b)     50%

c)      90%

d)     20%


4. What is latitude?

a)     The distance from the sun.

b)     The distance from the moon to the earth.

c)      The distance from the primeridian.

d)     The distance from the equator.


5. What do plants depend on to pollinate their flowers?

a)     Other plants

b)     The rays of the sun

c)      Photosynthesis

d)     Other animals


True or False

1. Soil is a good nutrient because its acidic, thin and low in organic matter.

2. In an Intricate relationship, plants depend on animals to pollinate their flowers.



1. Biome  a) An organism such as a fungus or bacterium
2. Decomposers b) Cohesive entities
3. Food Web c) Hosts to different ecosystems
4. Producers d) Displays feeding relationships and energy flow
5. Communities e) Highest rank in the feeding hierarchy



Essay Questions

1. Suppose some cosmic catastrophe jolts the Earth so that its axis is perpendicular to the line between the sun and Earth. Discuss what will happen to the following:

a)     presence of day and night

b)     length of day and night

c)      change in the length of the year in the N Hemisphere

d)     temperature of the equator

e)     seasonal variations at northern and southern latitudes



  1. Describe why each hemisphere has different seasons?













Chapter 6: Environmental Ethics and Economics: Values and Choices

This chapter discusses the economic growth and sustainability of the environmental resources. It also identifies the influence that culture and worldviews have on the ecological environment.

Multiple Choice

1. Ecocentrism is __________:

a)     An actions benefit or harm to the integrity of ecological systems.

b)     A calculation of how much of the earth’s natural resources can be preserved.

c)      A science that concerns the ecosystems of the world

d)     A social movement


2. The Preservation ethic is______________:

a)     People should manage natural resources responsibly

b)     The natural environment should remain in an unaltered state.

c)      Calculating one’s own impact on the natural resources of the world

d)     An increase in an economy’s production and consumption of goods and services


3. GDP stands for______________:

a)     Gross Dependent Product

b)     Gross Domestic Paridigm

c)      Genuine Dependent Progress

d)     Genuine Depressive Product


4. What does a person’s worldview reflect:

a)     Beliefs about the natural resource consumption

b)     Beliefs about natural resource preservation

c)      Beliefs about different religions

d)     Beliefs about the meaning, operation and essence of the world.


5. Greenwashing is _________:

a)     Consumers are misled into believing that companies are acting sustainably.

b)     The promotion of recycling projects.

c)      Watering plants daily

d)     Taking part in go-green exercises

True or False

1. Culture is the knowledge, beliefs, values, and learned ways of life shared by a group of people.
2. Worldview a person’s or group’s beliefs about the meaning, purpose, operation, and essence of the world


1. Environmental ethics  a) People who maintain that there exist objective notions of right and wrong that hold across cultures and contexts.
2. Ethics  b) People who believe that ethics do and should vary with social context.

3. Relativists c) The application of ethical standards to relationships between people and nonhuman entities
4. Universalists d) Criteria that help differentiate right from wrong
5. Ethical standards e) A branch of philosophy that involves the study of good and bad, of right and wrong.

Essay Questions

1. “We say no to uranium mining now and for the future. Our right to say no comes from our ancestors, our heritage, our law and culture, our Native Title”

~Jacqui Kantona, Speaking for the Mirrar

Describe the ethical implications and advantages that arise when mining the natural resource of uranium. Demonstrate your knowledge of this topic through providing your own personal views as well as an example.

2. Identify the meanings of preservation ethics and conservation ethics and discuss the advantages and disadvantages for both.


Not Enough Earth to Go Around!

Recently in class we have been discussing the issues with the Earth’s resources and how quickly they are being used up. One way to tell many resources a country, or even you, might be using is to measure the ecological footprint. An ecological footprint is the cumulative amount of land and water required to provide the raw materials a person or population consumes and to dispose of or recycle the waste that is produced. Many countries ecological footprint’s (EF) are extremely high and have overshot what the Earth has to offer. An overshoot is the amount by which humanity has surpassed the Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for our species. The carrying capacity is the maximum population size that a given environment can sustain. (1)


a) The ecological footprint for Bangladesh is extremely small, only 0.6 hectares per person. The country is small to begin with and they are not fully developed. Bangladesh, which is located in South Asia near India, is a very poor country without a stable economy; this can help explain why their EF is so small. Since the country is still developing, it most likely does not have all of the resources that a developed country might have, or at least not have proper access to them. If residents of the country do not have access to many resources, it would be impossible for them to be using a great deal of resources. Also, residents of a developing country probably do not have to funds to be buying and using many resources except for the basic necessities. Since the country’s people do not have the means not the money to be using resources, the country as a whole will have a smaller ecological footprint.

Australia, on the other hand, has a very large ecological footprint, 7.7 hectares per person. Unlike Bangladesh, Australia is a developing country with a fairly stable economy. The country has the proper knowledge and money for utilizing resources, the resources will be used up faster. The country is most likely using all of their resources both domestically and internationally (for exporting goods). Australia’s EF of 7.7 hectares per person makes sense because they have much better access to resources as well as the money and knowledge to use them up.

It is quite obvious that the United Arab Emirates has one of the highest ecological footprints, 9.9. The country is located in the Middle East near Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It has an open economy with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world (2). Since the country is located in the Middle East, it is a large exporter of oil. This is most likely one of the main causes for their EF being so high. Unlike Bangladesh, the UAE has a very strong economy with residents that do not have to use their incomes on only basic necessities. And unlike Australia, the Emirates has an abundance of resources (mainly oil), making the countries EF skyrocket.

b) Based on the data in Table 1, I see that a country’s GDP is very closely related to their ecological footprint. For the most part, countries with a small ecological footprint have a low GDP and countries with a large ecological footprint have a high GDP. Countries with a high GDP are most likely developed countries. These countries have easier access to resources and use them up more quickly. Also, the people living in countries with a high GDP are more likely to spend money using up these resources. Because of this, it is logical to think that a country with a high GDP will most certainly have a large EF (or at least larger than a country with a low GDP).

c) Compared to the entire world, my ecological footprint seems to fall somewhere in the middle. After taking the EF quiz, my ecological footprint came out to be 6.45 hectares. This is actually significantly smaller than the EF of the United States of America, 9.5 hectares per person. I think that the EF of the USA is so high because it is a very developed and wealthy country. Residents of my country sometimes don’t realize that all of Earth’s resources are limited and take advantage of the fact that it is so easy to access most resources. I think that my EF is lower than that of the U.S. for a few reasons. First, although I have a car, I do not use it as much as the average adult. I do not commute to work every day and when I go on long car trips, I tend to be with my parents or some other adult with a car. Also, I tend to be pretty ‘green’ when it comes to recycling and using a limited amount of resources.

My EF is a great deal larger than that of Bangladesh. Since I come from a fairly wealthy and developed country, it is safe to say that I use a great deal of more resources than the people living in Bangladesh. Compared to Mali, which has an EF of 1.1, my ecological footprint is very high. Just like Bangladesh, Mali is an extremely underdeveloped with an unstable economy. Next, my EF is actually very similar to that of Canada, 6.4. I think this is because both the United States and Canada have similar economies. Both are developed countries with stable economies. Although the U.S. has a much higher EF, my personal ecological footprint only has a 0.05 difference from that of Canada. My ecological footprint can be broken down into four sections: carbon, food, housing, and goods and services. My section that dealt with carbon was not as high as the other sections. I think this is because, as I mentioned earlier, that I do not drive a lot of take public transportation on a regular basis. On the other hand, my numbers for food and goods and services were quite high. I think this is because; living in America, eating out and constantly having a full refrigerator in your house has become the norm.


If everyone were to live my lifestyle, we would need 6.45 Earth’s. Finding out this number was somewhat scary when I first took the quiz. Although I try to recycle and be ‘green’ I am still using a lot of resources and there is only one Earth. Even though it is sad that some countries, such as Mail and Bangladesh, have very low EFs, it is actually important that the world stay this way. If everyone in the world had easy access to resources and the funds to pay for them, then every country’s EF would be extremely high. If this was the case, then the Earth’s resources would be used up much quicker than they are right now. It is so difficult to find a good balance between helping countries develop and preserving the Earth’s resources for as long as possible.

1. Withgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2010). Environment: The science behind the stories. 4th edition. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

2. World Fact Book, Central Intelligence Agency. Middle East: United Arab Emirates. Retrieve March 8, 2011 from


New Views

B. My World View and the Environment

I absolutely believe in the phrase “you are a product of your environment”. I think that every new thing you experience, every person you meet, every class you take, etc will shape your opinions and views about the world you live in. I have definitely found that this is true for me at least. I was not raised to really care about the environment or pay too much attention to it at all. We always had pets, we recycled, and we were taught not to litter; however, my parents never stressed the importance of a sustainable lifestyle, caring for every animal, or even being aware of the resources we used. The only time this was ever important to my parents was when our water bill would become high. I was also raised with a large stress on “the golden rule”. I grew up going to a strict Russian Orthodox church; but the emphasis was always on treating other PEOPLE how I wanted to be treated, not the ENVIRONMENT. I learned nothing about being kind to the Earth, only about being kind to other human beings. I think a lot of my upbringing has shaped how I currently feel about environmental issues. I rarely used to flinch when I would here about certain natural disasters or animals dying out. I would not say that I am ignorant of environmental issues, I was just not raised to seem them in such an important light.

Even though I have almost been ignoring certain things that have to do with the environment for quite some time, I feel as though my views have started to change. I have been playing sports for years and years, but only recently have I seen the importance of a healthy lifestyle. I am starting to see that ‘living a healthy lifestyle’ is almost impossible if you are not aware of your environment. Exercising and eating healthy foods are very important, but being sustainable seems to go hand in hand with these other two ideas. I am finding it harder and harder to live a truly full life if I am neglecting things such as the world’s resources and even my local environment. As I mentioned, I was always taught that I should treats others well, not necessarily the environment. However, I am seeing now that you can’t really treat others well if you are neglecting the environment that they live in. I think my new appreciation for exercising and living a healthy lifestyle have helped me see that neglecting environmental issues is the way that I was brought up, but not necessarily the way I want to live my entire life.


All About Me & My Environment


School life

I am a finance major and an economic minor at Simmons College in Boston, MA USA. This is my third year in college. I am using this blog as an outlet to learn more about ecology and the world of science in general. I will post all of my assignments, but also use the site to read other people’s opinions and views. As a business major, I have not needed to take any other science classes so I am excited to talk about topics that are fairly new and foreign to me.

New topics

One topic I am eager to learn about it renewable energy. The United States has been making a huge effort to ‘go green’ and be more environmentally conscious.  I would like to learn more about what this means and how companies would go about this large change. One significant environmental issue that is widely discussed is the increasing hole in the ozone layer. Although I hear this mentioned all the time, I don’t know exactly what this means. I would like to learn more about how this hole is affecting animal and plant life. For example, which animals and plants are becoming extinct due to this global warming.

My home

I come from a town in the middle of Boston, MA and New Hampshire. Boston is located on the Atlantic Ocean. The city is at a very low altitude. North of my town is New Hampshire. Most of New Hampshire, which is home to the White Mountains, is at a very high altitude. My town is located right in the middle of these two altitudes. Two rivers run through my town: the Shawsheen River and the Merrimack River. One huge problem that is specific to the Boston area is pollution. Boston, and the area surrounding it, is heavily populated. Most people in the United States have at least one or two cars, increasing the amount of pollution.




If I did not live in Boston (or Thessaloníki as I currently am)  I would love to live in Jamaica or a Caribbean island. Besides the rich culture, I love to be near the ocean and constantly in warm weather.




I have found that environmental science, ecology, and environmentalism are all quite different. Environmental science deals mainly with the natural world (plants, animals, etc) and how it works. It also deal with how you and I both effect the natural environment and are affected by the natural environment. This includes our interactions with plants, animals, etc. Ecology includes the amount of natural resources in the world and how much will be left at a given time. One term, “ecological footprint” is the environmental impact of an individual or group of individuals on an environmental area. It also includes the amount of waste that someone produces. Finally, environmentalism is less about the natural world and more of a social movement. “Going green” can be included in the environmental movement. This movement is about people wanting to better the world and try to fix what has been destroyed/used up.


3)  From this graph, it is obvious that the greater fertility per capita of a country, the lower their gross national product. Countries with a very low GNP are most likely developing countries. Developing countries do not have as much education about contraception and disease, therefore, they tend to have more children. Countries with a high GNP are most likely developed countries. These countries have much better education and are wealthier. There is a very common trend: the higher the fertility rate in a country, the lower the gross national product.










First post: Ecology 110.